Sue pays homage to her musical icon, and the boys learn what it feels like for a girl

By Tim Stack
Updated April 21, 2010 at 04:00 PM EDT
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Credit: Michael Yarish/Fox
S1 E15

BEST. EPISODE. YET. In my mind, this was a game-changer for Glee. It took the show (and the cast) to a whole new level of awesomeness. Let me put it this way: If it were possible for me to LIVE inside an episode of television, it would be the Madonna episode of Glee. I don’t think I’ve been as excited by an episode since the original pilot (or re-watched an hour of Glee so many times). This hour has been hyped for so long — yours truly actually broke the news of it last fall in our Glee cover story — but it actually lived up to the hype. And Madonna’s music proved to work surprisingly well for big choral numbers.

It was not at all surprising that Madonna would turn out to be Sue Sylvester’s role model. But that plot device turned out to be a really solid way of incorporating her Madgjesty into the show. And we learned quite a bit about Sue’s background, which was alternately hilarious (she claims to be 29 and that her parents were famous Nazi hunters — when are we meeting these folks?!) and believable (she fried her hair as a child after bleaching it and is jealous of Will’s wavy mane).

Occasionally, it felt a little forced (the playing of her music in the halls felt a little unrealistic) but overall it really worked. Even better, the entire ensemble got great moments instead of just Rachel and Finn — not that I don’t love seeing those two together.

Also, it is now official, my new show crush is Jesse St. James (played by Jonathan Groff). It used to be Puck, but Jesse is kinda stealing his bad boy mojo, although I’m not sure you can classify someone who uses the term ”melancholia” as a bad boy. The twist of having him join New Directions at the end was great. It ups the stakes for so many of the plotlines, especially Finn and Rachel.

Since this episode was so-wall-to wall with music, I’ve decided to review each performance. (I’m leaving out the ”Ray of Light” Cheerios number because they weren’t really singing… but I appreciated a good incorporation of stilts!)

”Express Yourself”

Looooved the costumes, especially the incorporation of the monocle. And the choreography was fantastic. It was a little more standard of an adaptation but still really solid. One question: Was it me or did Quinn lose her baby bump in this performance? Maybe the bustier sucked it in? Either way, that seems bad for the baby. B+

NEXT: Jane Lynch, we’re planning your Emmy reel

”Borderline/Open Your Heart”

I listen to this one on my iPod on repeat. One of the best moments of the episode for me was when Finn and Rachel wandered through the hallway and were surrounded by all the various Madonnas. It was surreal and wonderful, and this mash-up was pretty fantastic: The two songs blended together amazingly well, and I liked that the wind machine was in less effect than when the pair did ”No Air” last fall. A

”Vogue”

Utter brilliance. This should be on Jane Lynch’s Emmy reel. First of all, Lynch has never looked more beautiful. Secondly, it was just a pitch-perfect reenactment of the video. Major props to Lynch for handling some quite difficult dance moves, too! And how much fun did Chris Colfer and Amber Riley look like they were having? A+

”4 Minutes”

Speaking of that twosome, their collaboration on ”4 Minutes” actually sounded better to me than the Madonna/Justin Timberlake version. I absolutely loved it. And it was so fun to see them both get chances to shine. A-

”Like a Virgin”

A triumph of choreography and editing. This was one of the more ambitious numbers of the night, and I just thought the whole thing was flawless. I’m a little sad that Finn lost his virginity to Santana in a gross motel but we can’t win ’em all (I do kinda wanna start quoting that devious cheerleader and refer to him ”Finnocence”). Also, I love that Rachel wears a capelet to bed. A

”What it Feels like for a Girl”

Another Madonna song that I think was actually made better! I know it’s sacrilege, but it’s also kinda true! It’s just such a beautiful arrangement — I just wish it was longer. A-

”Like a Prayer”

The capper we all wanted, and holy Schuester, did it deliver! I’ve said this before, but if any Glee cover can challenge the success of ”Don’t Stop Believin’,” it’s this song. I’ve watched this performance at least 5 times (and I’ve definitely underestimated), and it still gives me chills, particularly when Mercedes comes in. But even Kurt’s beautiful falsetto is fantastic. This and ”Vogue” are a tie for me as the best performance of the evening. A+

The Glee folks should be so proud of this episode. As my colleague Ken Tucker wrote, it’s ”one of the best hours of TV you’ll see all year.” I completely agree. And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch it again. What did you think, Gleeks? Did the Madonna episode live up to the hype? What was your favorite performance?

Episode Recaps

Glee

Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.

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seasons
  • 6
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